Reader Threatens To Sue Fed After Losses Incurred By Going Long Inverse Leveraged ETFs

Tyler Durden's picture

Remember when double and even triple inverse leveraged ETFs were all the rage? That all occurred in the brief period of time before it became clear that Bernanke would first take down the global financial system before he let Citi get back to $1/share again. Apparently one reader recalls it all too well: "In 2008 at the bottom of the market I sold positions I owned in physical
gold and banks stocks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and
also non financial companies such as Ford (F). I used these proceeds to
purchased inverse ETF’s such as NYSE: FAZ (Direxion Financial 3x Short)
and NYSE:SRS (Proshares Real Estate 2x Short). Since making these purchases, these ETF’s have suffered significant
drops in value as reflected in their price. In fact NYSE: FAZ has
plummeted from $1100 per share to $11 per share and SRS has reduced in
price from $1000 per share to $19.50 per share. It is now apparent that
the Fed spent trillions of dollars to raise the price of bank stocks and
to inversely suppress the price of these inverse ETFs." Yet is this nothing but a case of fippers' remorse? Is there legal precedent for an actual claim? Was the Fed in breach of duty "by allowing investors to make investments into funds such as FAZ and SRS
and other inverse ETF’s, while the Fed was performing transactions that
the Fed knew or should have known would severely harm the investors in
these publicly traded fund." Will Bernanke cave and make whole everyone who dared to put money into the market, even if it meant betting on a broad market decline? After all the whole purposes of the latest propaganda campaign is to get people to put money in the market with no fear of loss whatsoever: whether one is bullish or bearish (and as the lack of participation shows, most are certainly still bearish). Which is where it gets interesting: "Therefore, I appeal to your office
to make due and just compensation in treble damages amounting to $__
million dollars for a full and good faith settlement of this matter. If
this is agreeable, I am prepared to enter into a confidential good faith
settlement." In our ridiculous bizarro world, in which nothing makes sense following each recurring Fed intervention, perhaps the Fed making whole those who lose money regardless of their bias, is just what is needed to break the 33 weeks of outflows...

Full letter submitted by Bill Pitts:

December 7, 2010
Mr. Ben Bernanke
Federal Reserve Bank
20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551-0001
Re: Financial Loss Suffered By Owners of Inverse ETF’s
Dear Chairman Bernanke:

On or about March of 2009, the Federal Reserve Bank (The “Fed”) commenced in actions that involved making loans to banks, financial institutions, wholly owned Fed companies (i.e. Maiden Lane), lenders and publicly traded companies. Additionally evidence suggest that the Fed through these firms and at the direction of the Fed made direct purchases of equities in publicly traded companies for the purpose of raising stock prices. These transactions were undisclosed to the public and investors. Neither the Fed nor the recipient companies disclosed these material transactions to the investing public. Ostensibly, this assistance from the Fed was conducted with the objective of increasing the stock value of many troubled companies and banks. Additionally, under the plan by the Fed and U.S. Treasury, these banks and financial institutions used the Fed supplied funds to purchase each other’s stock. This was conducted to allow each bank to raise each other’s stock values to improve the assets values on one another’s balance sheets. These actions were supported encouraged, known about and assisted through actions of the Fed and the United States Treasury.

While these actions may have been helpful to those firms to abate the systemic problems within the market, assisted in working to make recipient banks more solvent and may have prevented additional bank failure, these actions resulted in severe detrimental damage to many individual  investors.

As you are keenly aware, most every market transaction has two sides to a trade. As a stock or asset class increases in value, some investors realize gain while simultaneously others who concluded that the stocks would NOT improve in price and made investments accordingly known as taking a “short” position would loose money. The inverse of this scenario is also true.
As stock prices decrease, those investors who purchased inverse Exchange Traded Funds (“ETF’s’) would gain value in their investments.

As I understand it, between the Fed and the SEC you all are charged with ensuring fairness, honesty and integrity in our markets and monetary system. It is also my understanding that the Fed professes to never intervene in the markets unless it is to prevent crisis.
I attempted to understand current events, market conditions and the fundamentals of financial and cash flow statements prior to making personal direct investments. I have always assumed that significant transactions with companies being publicly traded would be conducted in the open and that significant transactions would be disclosed to all investors to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, it appears that as a result of the Feds efforts to correct the current financial crisis these rules of disclosure and openness were set aside.
After the September 2008 market crash I took a much more active role in managing my investments. Based upon reading financial data and analyst reports it was very obvious to me that there many commercial property REITS, banks and lending institutions were severely impaired, would suffer significant cash shortfalls and were insolvent or would go bankrupt. It appears that your office arrived at the same conclusion as evidenced by the subsequent injection of hundreds of billions of dollars of cash directed to these institutions by the Fed.

In 2008 at the bottom of the market I sold positions I owned in physical gold and banks stocks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and also non financial companies such as Ford (F). I used these proceeds to purchased inverse ETF’s such as NYSE: FAZ (Direxion Financial 3x Short)  and NYSE:SRS (Proshares Real Estate 2x Short).
Since making these purchases, these ETF’s have suffered significant drops in value as reflected in their price. In fact NYSE: FAZ has plummeted from $1100 per share to $11 per share and SRS has reduced in price from $1000 per share to $19.50 per share. It is now apparent that the Fed spent trillions of dollars to raise the price of bank stocks and to inversely suppress the price of these inverse ETFs.
Now 20 months after these investments were originally made, your office disclosed that it had directly and indirectly injected hundreds of billions of dollars into numerous publicly traded companies. However, this information was not made public to investors by either the Fed or the institutions receiving these cash injections as these significant material transactions were occurring.
As a result, investors could not make informed investment decisions. By allowing investors to make investments into funds such as FAZ and SRS and other inverse ETF’s, while the Fed was performing transactions that the Fed knew or should have known would severely harm the investors in these publicly traded fund.
My damages had I continued to hold onto my shares of Ford and physical gold are in excess of $__ million.  Therefore, I appeal to your office to make due and just compensation in treble damages amounting to $__ million dollars for a full and good faith settlement of this matter. If this is agreeable, I am prepared to enter into a confidential good faith settlement. I would also be prepared to drop action in attempting to raise public awareness to prepare for a class action lawsuit against the Fed regarding this matter.
Should we not be able to resolve this matter I will be forced to file a claim in the Federal District Court and work to initiate a Class Action Lawsuits to represent all owners of these inverse ETF’s that suffered economic loss. Enclosed please find a few of the reports relied upon to arrive at the conclusions. I would seek to further explore this through depositions and discovery of the many recipients of funds from the Fed.
I do not envy your position and the challenges you face during these very difficult times. Had I been on the other side of these trades I may very well hold a higher opinion of the Fed and its actions. Unfortunately I have been damaged as a result of your decisions.

Should your office desire to discuss this, I can be reached at my office at XXX-XXX-XXXX or my mobile at XXX-XXX-XXXX
William G. Pitts
Totally Busted: The Truth About Goldman's Bailout by the Fed

"Secret bailouts do not merely benefit recipients; they also deceive investors into mistaking fantasy for fact. Such deceptions often punish honest investors, like the honest investors who sold short the shares of insolvent financial institutions early in 2009.Based on all available public disclosures, the story remained fairly grim into the spring of 2009. Accordingly, the short interest – i.e., number of shares sold short – on Goldman Sachs common stock hit a record 16.3 million shares on May... 15, 2009 – about 3.3% of the public float. But over the ensuing six months, Goldman’s stock soared more than 30% – producing roughly $500 million in losses for those investors who had sold short its stock. Not surprisingly, the total short interest during that timeframe plummeted to less than 6 million shares, as short-sellers closed out their losing positions."
12/1/10 Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms 
12/1/10 Fed gave $3.3 Trillion to banks
12/1/10 Fed made $9 trillion in emergency overnight loans
12/1/10 Meet The 35 Foreign Banks That Got Bailed Out By The Fed (And This Is Just The CPFF Banks)
12/2/10 Federal Reserve May Be `Central Bank of the World' After UBS, Barclays Aid
Fed Releases Details on Bear Stearns, AIG Portfolios
Fed in hot water over secret bailouts
The Fed Admits To Breaking The Law
Fed Opens Books, Revealing European Megabanks Were Biggest Beneficiaries
Paulson/Goldman/Center for Responsible Lending
Goldman CEO Visited WH 4 Times During SEC Investigation
Goldman's White House connections raise eyebrows
Indymac Boys Get Sweetheart Deal
Obama’s $6.3 Trillion Scam Is America’s Shame:
Congress threatened with Martial Law if they do not give hundreds of billions to Bankers
Alan Grayson: "Which Foreigners Got the Fed's $500,000,000,000?" Bernanke: "I Don't Know."
BoE Secretly Loaned $102.9 Billion to RBS
Bank of England tells of secret £62bn loan to save RBS and HBOS
Bank of England advisers not told about secret £62bn loan to HBOS
Federal Reserve refuses to tell the US Senate to Whom they have given $2.2 Trillion

Bailouts could cost U.S. $23 trillion

Sticker Shock: $23.7 Trillion Bailout?
Tracking the $19 Trillion Bailout Funds
Fed Lends Two Trillion Without Oversight
How Lehman, With The Fed's Complicity, Created Another Illegal Precedent In Abusing The Primary Dealer Credit Facility
Access to fed Money - One of few naked Short Sellers who destroyed Bear Stearns and Lehamn Bothers
Geithner: Pickpocketing Trillions from the People to Give to the Oligarchy Was "Deeply Unfair", But We ... Um ... WE Had To
Why Is The Fed Actively Managing A $25 Billion Maiden Lane MBS Portfolio When Its $2.4 Trillion SOMA Holdings Have A $1 Billion DV01? (And Are Unhedged)
Did The Fed Just (Surreptitiously) Bail Out Europe?
Goldman Sachs pay out $111million in bonuses despite taking billions in bailout money
Goldman's White House connections raise eyebrows
Israeli made partner at Goldman Sachs,7340,L-3320118,00.html
Goldman Sachs was top Obama donor
Israel OKs US ‘Gift’ of Billions of Dollars in Warplanes

h/t Will

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
put_peter's picture

Oh! And I thought I made some pretty bad calls... Bless you Bill.

More Critical Thinking Wanted's picture





What's next - will this guy sue Roosevelt as well, for not letting the aftermath of the 1929 crash wipe out all of America's economy? FDR clearly 'defrauded' end-of-the-world short betters in 1932-33, right? :-)

The vast intellectual desert of right-wingers amazes me again and again.



Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

In the spirit of frivolous pursuits.....

If I can mathematically prove that 2=1, then do I have a right to pay half my tax bill and still be able to prove I paid the entire balance?


Let  a  =   x


  • a+a    =   a+x
  • 2a      =   a+x
  • 2a-2x  =   a + x - 2x
  • 2(a-x) =   a + x - 2x
  • 2(a-x) =   a - x
  • 2        =   1

It is now proven that 2=1.  


If 2=1, then 1/1 = 1/2

If 1/1 = 1/2


1/1 (2010 taxes due) = 1/2 (2010 taxes due)

Therefore my tax liability for 2010 is half the original balance, as proved by the laws of mathematics.  


Fuck you Geithner!

snowball777's picture

Sorry, you still can't divide by zero.

A Texan's picture

  You said:

"Let  a  =   x


  • 2(a-x) =   a - x
  • 2        =   1
  • It is now proven that 2=1."


If a = x, then a - x = 0,  as does 2(a-x)  [i.e. 2 times 0]   Nice try, but you totally screwed up the algebra.  
Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

Fine.  Whatever Smartypants.  Then I won't use zeros.


 -2 = -2

4 - 6 = 1 - 3

4 - 6 + 9/4 = 1 - 3 + 9/4

(2 - 3/2)squared = (1 - 3/2)squared

2 - 3/2 = 1 - 3/2

2 = 1


Eat it.


downrodeo's picture

2 - 3/2 = 1 - 3/2

this is false:

2 - 3/2 = 1/2

1 - 3/2 = -1/2


You've demonstrated that the square root of a^2 is +/- a; you've not demonstrated that 2=1.

Even if you did, i doubt they would acquiesce to your request.

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

Nice job.  Very few catch it. 


downrodeo's picture

WEEEEEEEEEEEEE, This math stuff is easy!!

Popo's picture

> "will this guy sue Roosevelt as well, for not letting the aftermath of the 1929 crash wipe out all of America's economy?"

Those actions were publicly disclosed.

More Critical Thinking Wanted's picture

Those actions were publicly disclosed.

Don't be silly - there's a mile high stack of now declassified secret FDR documents. (There would probably be another mile high stack of documents of secret policy deliberations and decisions not put into writing, ever.)

Those secret documents contained many material bits of information: decisions about foreign trade, whether to go to war or not, decisions about policy strategies to follow in the year to come, deliberations about crises, etc. etc.

Republican presidents made use of the privilege to keep things secret extensively: remember the Cheney/Bush energy task force, where they colluded with energy companies to shape future legislation and policy (and even deliberated the economic reasons for going to war in Iraq), all heavily against the public interest? We'll get to see their extent of corruption in 60 years or so. Our grandchildren will have a good laugh about how Cheney & co ripped off the country - but we dont get to learn about those documents.

You can argue for more transparency in government, and in fact I am arguing for it.

But to claim that current US precedent does not allow policymakers to keep things secret is silly. There's an obvious need for secrecy in the case of a bank run. The Fed and other central banks have kept certain financial details secret ever since they existed - for example weaker central banks tend to keep the actual extent of their reserves secret, to make it harder for speculators to pull a Soros short squeeze on their country's currency. That alone is a legitimate public interest and there's many other examples.

So in a court of law this guy will not only have to explain away all those US precedents, but will also have to explain why paying him a few more million dollars for his crazy bottom-of-the-market leveraged short ETF bet is in the public interest while the Fed keeping an economy of 300+ million people from collapsing was not in the public interest :-)

I wish him good luck on that legal theory - he'll need it. (I expect it to be an entertaining court case - especially the judge's ruling.)

ps. Right-wingers need to come up with good reasons why in the case of the Fed 'transparency' is such a big must, while in the case of Wikileaks they are calling the man to be assassinated for publishing leaked materials. You cannot have it both ways really. "Because one case fits our ideology while the other does not" is not a valid answer.

pps. It was a really smart call to go short in early 2009, dude! I suspect you fully bought the "hyperinflation, baby, hyperinflation!" right-wing lie, line, hook and sinker? Remember kids: reading too much sell-side ZH propaganda can be harmful to your financial wellbeing, especially at the bottom of the market. I never thought ZH would be willing to document the extent of financial damage that going short on doomsday predictions can cause. Maybe Tyler did not consider that aspect of this article? :-)




infotechsailor's picture

your use of the term right-wingers is a gross oversimplification.

most here are libertarian.

Hyperinflation is a reality, just because asset prices fall doesn't mean commodities will. Not to mention you have no idea how much lower prices would be absent the massive intervention (something that would help American poor much more than UI).

Red Neck Repugnicant's picture

most here are libertarian.

No.  I disagree. I think most here probably voted for the Republican ticket in 2000/04/08.  Anytime I point toward the deep hypocrisy of the Republicans, I get junked into the stratosphere.

Perhaps some readers have begun to identify with the libertarian party in the past year or two, but most of them truly don't know what survival-of-the-fittest capitalism would do to a society.  They just latch onto the Fed is evil part of the libertarian cause, and ignorantly jump on the anarcho-bandwagon. Anytime the poor, down-trodden and middle class can get fucked further is a good thing, right? That's anarcho-capitalism, but no one thinks it through. 

The sheep join the libertarian ticket as ignorantly and as uninformed as they were when subscribed to the Republican agenda in the past.   



WmWallace's picture

I suspect you think those in this pension fund that were defrauded should make a claim either?

Rattner, Inside Trading, Bank of America in Court News

WmWallace's picture

Rattner, Inside Trading, Bank of America in Court News


Pimco Pays $92 million for making hundreds of billions manipulating Treasuries

The Pacific Investment Management Company, the California-based bond giant that oversees about $1.2 trillion in assets, has agreed to pay $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit — one that accused the money manager of manipulating the price of some Treasuries.


Pimco hires former TARP chief Kashkari

pamriallc's picture

Inverse ETF's are in fact wonderful trading positions.  Not to be confused with "ownership"positions.  This is the simple math:  ETF is 200% or 300% up or down leveraged.  Doesn't matter which one, actually.  THEY WILL ALL GO TO ZERO EVENTUALLY


The world is a mean-reverting animal.  That means that the "bell curve distribution of volatility" will be just that:  A BELL CURVE

Problem:  These Leveraged ETF's must rebalance every single day

Bigger problem:  Mean Distribution of Volatility--- -2% then +2% then -2% then + 2% then -2% then +2%

You end up with an "average" of +2% but due to daily rebalancing, these leveraged ETF's you will find ourself *out* about 3% of your capital in just 5-6 days.  The 300% leveraged ETF's simply cause you to lose money faster, unless you think you have 20 "up" days in a row in your future.

Bottom line, these ETF's don't work over the long term, regardless of strategy.

Happy to explain this further.

Shawn A. Mesaros, Pamria, LLC

Birddog's picture

Please explain further...if one bought this postion with FAZ around $10 and the S&P where to take a plung in a month or so, the returns will be diminished??

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

If that is so, shorting both the long and the short ETF of the same type, should guarantee you an income for life or until they both get to zero (0).


BTW: If a case like this gets to the supreme court the word "Tilt"comes to mind, but it will not. Even if all nine dudes-ettes agree that it is the ultimate scam, in their wisdom, they will never take the case knowing that drawing the curtain and exposing the naked emperor will bring the second revolution.   

Bob's picture

Oh, how I wish I didn't know this pain.  Then again, who bought AIG @ 1.2 for a fifty bagger?

Fuck 'n A. 

MOMO's, banksters and insiders rule.  I don't expect to be made whole.  Funny, though!  Guess I still have my sense a humor . . .

Matt's picture

I don't think AIG is up 50 times; there was a reverse stock split of 20 to 1 or something like that.

I did buy at $2.12 on Sept 18, 2008 and sold at $4.88 on Sept 22, 2008 after reading a blog where the author had argued that if the original government bailout for 70% was all that was needed, the remaining public shares were worth $5.50. To this day, I lement that I cannot find out whose advice that was.

Bob's picture

Oh, yeah!  I forgot about that reverse split (interesting that I would err on the side of exaggerating my missed gains.)

HarryWanger's picture

Really?? This is pretty sad.

Astute Investor's picture

I guess he would have been better off by putting his money into home decor items....

Cursive's picture

@Astute Investor

Thank you.

66Sexy's picture

This is the downside of government intervention in free markets.

The FED may indeed have liability. The Federal Reserve is not a government agency. What are the implications of this>?

mberry8870's picture

There are several serious implications to this if in fact anyone in the governmental regulatory structure wanted to do something about this. While there are some flaws in the writers arguments about disclosure the issues it is more inside information and manipulation. Since the Fed is not a government agency I wonder if they get sovereign immunity.


Nothing will happen. Move along.

Everyman's picture

Really?  YOU are a flaming puddle of "sad".

downrodeo's picture

+1, lol, or just a flaming puddle...

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

Should make for a compelling lawyer fight nonetheless.  Given that the Fed is technically a private entity, I'm pretty sure they lack some key exemptions.

"Really?? This is pretty sad."

I fail to see how attempting to obtain money through any legal means possible is sad.  It's the free market, right?  He's free to pursue this avenue.  Or are only people who invest in long positions cool enough for your tastes?

cosmictrainwreck's picture

+100 ABSOLUTELY. Gotta be at least one (or 12) bad-ass lawyer(s) in USA willing to take on contingency. If not....where's yer ballz, bee-atches??

reading's picture


You've turned back into a total a**hole.

traderjoe's picture

Turned "back"? You know his entire purpose here has been to do a study on "perma-bears". His entire presence has been a mockery of ZH. 

knukles's picture

I asked God if There Was a Purpose in Harry.
He Miracuoulsy Directed my Attention to a freshly opened can of Beanie Weenies with the Crying Porcine Being of Enlightment on the Front, and it was there I found my answer; Harry's the prize.

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

I say it's pure masochism. I bet he gets his screen soiled.

StychoKiller's picture

Harry still needs to prove that he's NOT an A.I. program!

akak's picture


"I know you and Tyler were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen."

truont's picture

 "Therefore, I appeal to your office to make due and just compensation in treble damages amounting to $__ million dollars

Bernanke says:  "Bwahahahahah!  It's so cute when the sheep think I care!  LOL!  Like a give a damn about dude's "treble damages."

"That is what you get for betting against America, son!  It's all about transferring the wealth from the sheep to its rightful owners:  the Elites.  Bwhahahahahah!"

rocker's picture

This is NOT about betting against America. His bet was against a rigged market and a Scam the Banks at Goldman Sachs and the like rigged against Americans.  The Thieves, (elite, as you sadly call them) are crooks who belong in Jail.

They are Thieves first, market manipulators second, and liars third.

Lloyd Blankfein, Hank Paulson, Neel Kashkari, and Ben Bernanke All Belong in Jail.   These are the elite who are rightful owners. LOL  They lied to congress, other nations, Americans, and without remorse, Were bailed out by Bush & Co.  Who also in Jail.

Maybe Sharon Angle is right. Time to uphold our second amendment's rights.

dizzyfingers's picture

I agree. Are we ready to roll? What's the plan?

rocker's picture

Ready to Roll?  This is much deeper than I care for, none of them are worth my time. But call Sharon Angle, Ron Paul and Sarah Palin.  Ron can be the brains to guide the misfit Chics who just want to shoot something.  Palin wants to reload to take back America. Angle wants to pull the trigger, Ron knows who his target is. I am sure they can work with you. 

jahbless's picture

naw, don't call any of them.  Call your neighbours, call your local community together.

Have a town hall meeting without any of the so-called 'Persons In Power'.

PIPS, Bitchez!

SteveNYC's picture

I know many bulge-bracket slaves....I mean "employees"....that have purchased literal mansions since the collapse in 2008. While the country burns and the middle class suffers carrying its stone, the recipients of the bailout funds, via direct or indirect means, are snapping up high-end real estate in NY, CT, and NJ with "bonus" money paid since all of their firms went belly-up.

The transfer of wealth makes one sick to the stomach.

rocker's picture

At least you see the bigger picture.  They are paid for their misdeeds, garnished in wealth doing nothing of productive value.  They manage money which they rob in rigged accounts.  How else can they make so much money. In the end, they are just like Bernie Madoff. Living in houses that they did nothing of value to acquire. They belong in the same Jail with the same humility. The only difference between the Goldman Sachs thieves and Bernie is, Bernie was not on the bailout list.  He wasn't even on the Lehman, Bear Stearn's list.  Then again, somebody had to take the hit.  

And they wonder why the smart money is leaving the Stock market and Fund Managers.  


FreedomGuy's picture

Absolutely! The bailout not only saved many of their asses, they are now reaping huge sums and bonuses from the manipulation of markets through Fed actions. It's a rigged game and paid for with tax money. It's shameless, unconstitutional and immoral.

monkeyshine's picture

GS, and other banks, never made more money than they are making right now.  GS recorded its best quarter ever just months after the economic meltdown.  Check July 2009 or Jan 2010 for example.  How do they make record profits when the country is suffering the worst downturn since the GD and when so few IPOs and secondary offerings are available from which to scalp some commissions? 

I can only guess at the answer and marvel at the disconnect.

In 1776, only 30% of the colonists supported Revolution.  30% supported the status quo.  40% were indifferent.